31 October 2008

Quilt Festival

A belated post from Houston's Quilt Festival - I had nothing but problems with blogger while away, but I can finally post this one. I gave up even taking pictures after two frustrating days trying to upload photos.

A whirlwind couple of days have resulted in a complete switcheroo to our booth and now we have all of the art quilting goodies out.

We're directly across the aisle from Judy Gula's booth (Artistic Artifacts), where Liz Kettle and Laura Cater Woods are too. Look at all the pretty colors!

Diagonally across is the Make It U workshop area. Yesterday I taught an ink class there and had great fun, tomorrow I'll be teaching stampmaking and then demonstrating fish printing in the Open Studios area. Pokey had a couple of Make It U classes today. She's so enthusiastic and high-energy.

Terry White stopped by from her booth around the corner for a visit.

After the show closed Natalya and I headed across the street into the park for an outdoor meal overlooking a small lake. Looking back at the convention center we could see the lights and their reflection in the water. There was an outdoor concert to entertain us and we bopped along to a lot of great 80s songs. A lot of those songs took me right back to high school and my roller disco days - does anyone else remember that? How weird does that seem now? Rolling in circles around a rink for hours to (now cheesy) music under a disco ball. It was fun, it's just hard to explain the appeal now.

25 October 2008

Reporting in from Quilt Market in Houston

I'm in Houston for the next ten days for International Quilt Market (wholesale only) and Quilt Festival (retail!) Last night was the C&T Publishing Authors' Dinner and it was great. I gave a little talk about using the internet to market your books and promote yourself and I hung out with a lot of other authors and some of the wonderful people at C&T. I took this picture while I was waiting for the bus to take me to the hotel where the dinner was held. The architecture of the buildings in downtown Houston is interesting. I didn't realize that the other hotel was only about a block from my hotel until after the dinner when I walked back with a couple of other authors. Could have saved myself a thirty minute bus ride on the way there if I had but known. Oh brother!

We have a booth at both shows, but with completely different stuff at each. At Market we show the books and patterns that we publish through our shop, The Country Quilter. We have four new patterns for this Market and we're also running around the show looking for wonderful new things to carry in our store. Tomorrow I'll be in C&T's booth for a little while signing books and chatting with customers. Next Tuesday we disassemble this booth and reassemble as Flourish! with all of our art quilting goodies and supplies.

I have a new pattern out, Market Bag, that's a really generous size for shopping. It's completely lined and has a medium to heavy interfacing inside to make it strong and give it some body. I'm going to make a slew of these when I get home for my own grocery shopping and to give as gifts. So much prettier than the bags with store logos that I'm currently using!

The highlight of my day today was meeting Jay McCarroll, the winner of the first season of Project Runway, who has two new lines of fabric out with Free Spirit Fabrics. He's completely adorable and his fabric line is fresh and funky.

My least favorite part of today was the two hours I spent in the ER waiting for a tetanus shot after a staple gun accident at the show. Oof. The medics at the show told me I was the fourth (!) person that day who had stapled themselves and the hospital people told me I was the fifth (!) quilter in to see them today. The other quilters were at the hospital for less exotic reasons, mostly falls, at least mine was more creative, though hardly unique, lol.

15 October 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Today is October 15, Blog Action Day against Poverty.

My husband grew up in Peru in a middle class family of artists and teachers. We were fortunate enough to have lived there for a while and to have visited there a number of times. The day-to-day existence of too many of Peru's citizens includes grinding poverty. The children leave the strongest impression on me. What must it be like to live in a house made of materials scrounged from the streets? Not to know if there will be enough food for the day? Not to know if the future holds anything better?

Peru is a beautiful country with a rich cultural history. The extremes between the haves and have-nots is striking and so much more obvious than it is here in the states. There it is not uncommon to see families living in houses made of cardboard, tin and homemade adobe right next to exclusive gated communities, patrolled by watchmen, with fancy, imported cars in every driveway. 53% of the population lives below the poverty line, 10% earn less than $1 a day. Many people have migrated to the cities hoping for jobs and this has exacerbated the problem.

Oxfam International is one organization that is making a difference, in Peru and in many countries around the world. They are working to improve health care and education, encourage free trade, and develop sustainable agriculture in over 100 countries. Poverty is a global problem and it needs a global solution. We all need to help, from the local level on up. There are many organizations in each of our communities that need our support. There are many people working on this problem and they need our help. I'll be working harder to do my part.

14 October 2008

Are you registered??

Make sure you are registered to vote. Here in the states, we're facing the most historically important election of our time.

12 October 2008

Illustration Friday - strings

cotton fabric, bamboo batting, cotton thread, found object paper, acrylic ink and acrylic paint on 6" x 6" stretched canvas

The starling picked up a bundle of string somewhere on his travels. Perhaps he was hanging around my studio?

Quilting Arts Workshop

Last March I was invited to go to Stow, MA to tape a workshop for Quilting Arts. The taping was held in a big, beautiful barn at the Bolton family alpaca farm. The paddock was full of baby alpaca, called cria. Aren't they sweet?

In the workshop, I show you how to make a One-Page Book out of fabric, using a wide variety of mixed media techniques, including stampmaking, antiquing, water soluble wax pastels and image transfers. This book is pretty cool because each page is the size of an Artist Trading Card and it's a lot of fun to work with a theme. My theme was insects, quel surprise!

Also taping their own workshops the same day was the inestimable Leslie Riley

And my intrepid co-author, Elin Waterston

(Which reminds me - a BIG announcement is coming soon. Stay tuned!)

I received a preview copy of my workshop yesterday and boy, did I pack a lot of info into 51 minutes! The workshop is available as a download or a dvd from Quilting Arts. Here's a preview:

Quilting Arts has quite a few workshops available and they all look so tempting! What a great way to learn a new technique without leaving home. No need to pack up and schlep all of your stuff anywhere, instead bring a teacher home with you for a personal lesson, then pause and re-play any part of it to your heart's content. What a fantastic idea - the folks at Quilting Arts are brilliant.

11 October 2008

Yoga, anyone?

If you're into yoga and you live on Long Island, New York, you might want to check out the Long Island Yoga Association. I re-designed their website and boy, do I wish I lived closer! I'd love to take some of their workshops.

02 October 2008

Text as design and inspiration

Artist Trading Card with a background of newspaper from India and a Chinese fortune cookie fortune

I love the use of text as a design element. I know that a lot of other artists are also inspired by and incorporate text into their work. I adore the way Karen Stiehl Osborn uses text, Rayna Gillman does beautiful things with letters, and Virginia Spiegel has a way with words, just to name a few. I don't know whether my affinity for the use of all things alphabetical is linked to my colored-grapheme synesthesia or not but I do know that I find it a very satisfying inspiration.

Sometimes the forms of the letters are pure design elements for their shapes, used as background noise, as in this piece from my Climate series.

Sometimes the letters or numbers are large and central to the piece but don't "say" anything.

Sometimes the letters spell something relevant.

I can't get enough letters and numbers. I have over 600 fonts installed on my computer and subscribe to a bunch of font newsletters. You might say that I'm a font junkie. I'm such a letter nerd in fact that I print out and collect the Type Trading Cards from ITC (International Typeface Corporation) each month. They're like ATCs, but with font history and fun facts.

I also collect lots of things that have text on them to use in my work. I have scores of fortune cookie fortunes -

Maps -

Old music scores -

Pages from falling-apart books -

Reproductions of old money or letters -

Postage stamps -

And of course, paper and stamps with other languages.

Handmade paper with Korean characters -

A newspaper from India -

And more alphabet stamp sets than you can shake a stick at - in every size from 1/4" to 3" high, and several character sets.

I've been playing with layering text of different scales, different languages, different colors, to say something and just for the forms. I can think of so many more directions to explore.

I found some really neat letters made of recycled tin cans in a catalog recently. The letters are about 8" high and 1.5" deep. Because they were on sale, the company was out of a lot of letters and only had two vowels left (u and o). It made spelling something out a little challenging, but I did think of a great word for my studio, as you can see!

My husband walked in right after I hung them up (probably attracted by the hammering) and wanted to know why the wall said "spout". Silly boy...